There is no way to brace yourself for the word cancer. On that August afternoon when the dermatologist told Tom that he was referring him immediately to an oncologist we were shaken to the core. What we had thought he could remove in the office now looked like another situation entirely.
In a few days we saw one of the most experienced cancer surgeons in Manaus, Dr. Jesus Pinheiro. At the age of 70 he is an extraordinary man to meet and consult with. Tom was quickly scheduled for surgery to remove the melanoma from his scalp. All the tests showed that it was malignant and was already producing proteins, which could mean that it had already spread. Only a biopsy would reveal what we wanted and didn’t want to know.
As I searched for strength I instinctively turned, as so many before me, to the book of Job and the Psalms. I happened to be teaching these books at our Bible college and the timing could not have been more divinely orchestrated. What I taught had deep personal implications for me and my family. God in His infinite grace gave us books like these that put a voice to our troubled thoughts, words to our darkest fears, and expression to our faintest hopes.
I also began to journal all of the truths I encountered about God. My list grew daily.
God is my Father.
God is my Shepherd.
God is here.
God is near.
God is my Strength.
He brings me out into a spacious place…
It is now more than 2 months after the surgery. Tom’s scalp has almost completely healed. Considering how wide and deeply the surgeon’s knife went, it has been a long and amazing process to watch skin knit itself together before my very eyes.
The biopsy confirmed that no cancer had spread from the place of origin and for that we have been so grateful. We were surprised further when the doctor quit urging us to do any skin grafting. He said it was healing so well that none would be needed.
Having come through this crisis we sense that God still has something important for us to do here in Brazil. We praise Him for extending our days of ministry and our life together. But most of all we praise Him for filling us with more of Himself and for that you always need a lot more room.